New Delhi: Pushed by India, Twitter has removed six micro-blogging accounts which resembled that of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) amidst government's assertion that action would be taken against those allowing objectionable content.
In a communication to the PMO, Twitter has said it has "removed the reported profile(s) from circulation due to violation of our Terms of Service regarding impersonation".
This communication has been sent in response to a complaint made two months back by the PMO which had identified the six Twitter accounts and wanted these to be shut as these allegedly had communally-sensitive content and other such objectionable material.
"We had requested Twitter to take appropriate action against 6 persons impersonating the Prime Minister s Office. When they did not reply for a long time, we requested Cyber Security Cell to initiate action," the PMO spokesperson said.
The PMO had asked the Cyber Security Cell of the Department of IT to block these accounts after there was no action by the Twitter.
Subsequently, Twitter had promised to cooperate with the government and locate the "unlawful content".
It told the PMO that it could not take action earlier "because the government entity did not intimate through proper procedure electronically to our system and hence the request was not located."
Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal said, "The difficulty is that Twitter is a site, which operates from outside India and the server of all such sites are outside the jurisdiction of India.
"They have said that they are ready for talks with us. But the solution to this problem should be a permanent one," Sibal said in an official statement.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde denied any censorship and said "we are only taking strict action against those accounts or people which are causing damage or spreading rumours.
"We are not taking action against other accounts, be it on Facebook, Twitter or even SMSes. I assure you about this."
"There is no censorship at all. We decided on taking action because there were pictures of Myammar etc online, which were disturbing the atmosphere here in India. I am again reassuring you," Shinde said.
Sibal said, "We are happy that Facebook and Google are cooperating with us and the names of the objectionable sites that we had provided them, they cooperated with us on them and decided to close down those sites. We have also imposed restriction on those sites."
He said a permanent solution to the problem could be found only "when we talk to all the stakeholders and form such a mechanism under which any objectionable content is removed."
The IT Minister said the government could take action "but in that case restrictions are also imposed on people who are right on their part. So, we don t want that to happen."
He said the government had provided 28 URL numbers under which objectionable material is being shown. "Now the government does not know who is behind these URL numbers, only Twitter and other sites are aware about it. Later if those URL numbers are found to be innocent, then the accusations would be thrown at the government."
Sibal said government doesn't have the identities nor does it have any way to find out the identities.
"So, the accusations that we are aggressively targeting someone s account or websites are incorrect," he said.